Prof. Francis X Clooney, Harvard Divinity School
Photo source: Harvard Divinity School faculty webpage
Father Clooney is a Jesuit priest, who conducts Mass every Sunday and served as the 2021–2022 President of the Christian Theological Society of America (CTSA), the largest professional society of theologians in the world. As president, he chose the theme “Thinking Catholic Interreligiously.” But Father Clooney is also Professor Clooney–more specifically, the Parkman Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, where he is known as a pioneer in the field of comparative theology, teaching a number of courses on Hinduism and the connections he sees between Hinduism and Christianity.
I was a student in one such class in 2015, which is how I met Frank. His scholarly approach completely changed the way I thought about Hindu beliefs and scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita, which had been a major part of my religious upbringing. Since then, Frank and I have had many wonderful conversations about Hinduism, religion, and the importance of highlighting commonalities across religions. I also took more classes with him on the Upanishads, Patanjali Yoga, and, last but not least, the most fascinating class, “Krishna and Christ.” He was even kind enough to write the Foreword for my recently published book, “Bridges Across Humanity: Different Religions, Similar Teachings.”
Frank has told me on numerous occasions how he truly believes the study of Hinduism has made him a better Christian and he is always striving to share that perspective with others to inspire them to embrace that same spirit of interreligious dialogue. As he once reflected, “When we go to other parts of the world and see things that might change our lives, we still come back home. It is just that ‘home’ is now a little different, too. Why can’t we do that intellectually and religiously as well?” Like us, Frank is committed to building bridges across humanity.
As part of this mission, he has written numerous inspiring pieces, a few of which we wish to share over the coming weeks, coinciding with the holy Christian period of Lent. First, we will share an article that Frank recently wrote specifically for UEF, exploring examples of sacred poetry across religions, many of which he personally translated. Next, we will share insights from an article he wrote several years ago which explores the relevance that the Bhagavad Gita holds for Lent. Finally, we will close with a 2-part newsletter highlighting some amazing commonalities between the holy figures of Jesus Christ and Krishna, which was the subject of one of Frank’s popular courses at HDS
On behalf of UEF, we are excited to share with you the wisdom of this inspiring man who I am honored to count as a close personal friend and ally of UEF’s mission.